Sound and the Smart City: Mapping Sound and Noise

Sarah Lappin: Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom

Gascia Ouzounian: University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Conor McCafferty: Queen's University Belfast, United Kingdom


KEYWORDS: Sound Mapping, Noise Mapping, Sound Art, Architecture, Recomposing the City

Efforts to define and quantify sound and noise have a long history across many fields, a history that dovetails with the refinement of architectural acoustics and noise control through the twentieth century. Yet the challenge of addressing sound and noise in urban and architectural space stubbornly persists. Concepts of the audible toggle between ‘unwanted’ noise as an objective measurable and ‘pleasant’ sound as a subjective qualification. Sound maps and noise maps invite the public, alongside practitioners of architecture, urban design, planning, acoustics and sound art, to provide new perspectives on these issues, in turn prompting further questions around the elimination of noise as an annoyance or the harnessing of sound as a creative building material.

Sound maps and noise maps enlist ubiquitous computing, powerful geographic information systems, new spatial media, and mobile devices to produce their cartographies. However, the ‘smartness’ of such projects does not mean they can bypass fundamental issues of theory and epistemology. Sound maps and noise maps engage publics in processes of citizen science and participatory art, giving rise to questions on the authority of maps, their authorship, and their critical and political purpose. By various methods, these mapping projects convey the audible as a key component of urban spatial experience. What remains less clear is how the maps assembled from such data might inform or, indeed, transform architectural and urban space.

This session will explore the politics of sound mapping and noise mapping in urban contexts. We invite papers that consider such pertinent issues as: sound and the smart city; sound mapping projects whose concerns range from acoustic ecology to urban sensorial history; the role of mapping in sound art, with particular attention to participatory and community-based art projects; recent innovations in noise mapping, including participatory noise mapping apps and automatic noise monitoring systems.


Mapping Subversive Sounds: Alternative Urban Narratives using the MyCities/Mysounds App

  • Eric Lewis, McGill University, Canada

[Re]mixing Space: A Sonically Inclusive Methodology for Charting Accessibility and Social Equity in Creative Urban Contexts

  • William Renel, Royal College of Art, United Kingdom

politics of soundscape measurement - modalities of sensing and listening

  • Dietmar Offenhuber, Northeastern University, United States of America